NGOs have been flooded with donations to provide basic items to over 4,100 people accommodated in Lithuania’s migrant camps, delivering food and clothing items.
However, not all of the donated items are suitable.
“[People] bring various things, from ballroom dresses to high heels, whatever you like. Sometimes these clothes may not be in the best condition,” says Lina Blažytė, director of the Centre for Community and Social Innovation. “We have to just sort them out and tell people that if it’s something they wouldn’t wear again or wouldn’t put on their child [...], then they shouldn’t give that to someone else as well.”
Border guards often only tell the number of migrants that need clothes, without providing specific details, which makes sorting donations difficult.
“It isn’t enough for us to know, for example, that there are 40 men, and 40 sweaters, 40 pants [are needed], and that is the most that we usually get to know. The sizes differ,” says Jolita Matulaitytė, head of Catholic charity organisation’s Caritas Vilnius Archdiocese branch.
“Even when we have these clothes sorted out, we usually bring more clothes to a specific border station than there are people, just so there would be more options for different sizes,” she adds.
There is a shortage of suitable footwear and men’s clothing. Migrants are also in need of bedding.
“People live in tents. [...] At night, tents get damp because of condensation, people wash everything and hang it all on the fence to dry. It’s been raining these days, so [they] have nowhere to dry their clothes and bedding,” says volunteer Donatas. “They don’t even have a place to wash [their clothes], since it’s damp inside and outside.”
In many cases, migrants lack even some basic hygiene items, such as soap and shampoo, Donatas adds.
Caritas uses money donations to buy hygiene items, as very few people donate them, a spokesperson for the organisation said.
Maisto Bankas (Food Bank) delivers food products to migrant accommodation centres several times a week.
“We would bring some additional fruits or some other products that weren’t bought that day,” says Simonas Gurevičius, head of Maisto Bankas. “However, there were cases when that was the only meal they would get, especially at the beginning [of the crisis].”
Maisto Bankas has delivered some 40 tonnes of food products to irregular migrants.